This year was the second season for the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival’s International Screenwriting Competition. Carla Custance impressed the jury with her feature screenplay, Resurrecting Jane Doe, and walked away from the festival with the top prize.
We caught up with Carla back home in Ottawa for a discussion on her writing process and what happens next for Carla and her award-winning screenplay.
Your script, Resurrecting Jane Doe won this year’s Screenplay Award at the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival. What’s the story about and how did you decide that this was an idea you wanted to focus on?
The logline is “When a lonely mortician identifies a Jane Doe, he tells her family a tall tale about her to help them grieve and falls in love with her sister. Things get complicated when he uncovers Jane’s real story – if he can’t keep it under wraps, it’ll break their hearts and end the only real relationship he’s ever had.”
I chose this story because it appealed to me thematically. I think that we all tell ourselves “stories’ so that we don’t have to face certain truths and this script allowed me to explore that.
What comes first to you in your process, the character or the story?
The character usually comes to me first. For Resurrecting Jane Doe, the idea for the main character came to me about a year before the story did.
How do you approach building the layers of your story?
I’m very structure oriented. I write numerous outlines, breaking the story into eight sequences or mini-movies and then layer in subplots that work towards the same theme. I use the outline as a starting point, but once I start writing script pages, I let the story take me where it wants to go. In my rewrites, I work with the various story elements until it feels right.
How do you come up with your ideas for your stories?
I find my ideas everywhere, as I go about my daily life. Often I’ll observe something or hear something that makes me ask, “What if?” Other times they come solely from my imagination. They often come in snippets. A character, a setting, an obstacle, a statement I want to make. I write them all down in my “ideas” notebook and eventually when the right ones connect, I have my story.
What has this award meant for you?
I’m thrilled to have my work recognized by such an amazing festival. It gives me visibility and access to the industry that I didn’t have previously. Getting to spend a week with so many talented writers, directors and producers was inspiring. And it all happened the week that the National Film Board announced parity for women in film in Canada.
What has happened for the screenplay in the month since the festival? Have you been contacting production companies?
I’ve just started querying producers about the script. Interested parties can contact me via my website http://www.carlacustance.com
What are you planning to follow this script with? Do you have another script you’re working on?
I’m working on a new comedy screenplay, which will be finished this summer.
By Michelle Muldoon